An article on Tecrepublic website by Conner Forrest tells us of an ‘unmanned’ factory in Dongguan City, Guangdong which produces parts for cell phones. Before the production line was automated the factory had employed 650 people, now there are only 60. The 60 will be comprised mainly of low-skill loaders and un-loaders — still the spatial sorts of jobs that computers can’t do! — but also, more importantly, of high-skill engineers, to deal with breakdowns and software engineers to deal with changes of parts specifications that will inevitably occur from time to time.
The advancing tide of automation cannot be stopped because competition between forms to produce items at cheaper costs is constant. But what about the surplus 590 workers? Many economists have tried to brush this type of problem aside by saying that these can be found jobs in new industries. But this implies an ever-growing world economy !
The longer-term answer can only be very much better standards of education so that the high-skill jobs that will always remain in an automated economy can be shared. Working weeks can also be seriously reduced. Low-skill jobs will also remain, but there will always be genetically low-skill people even in a high standard educational environment. Also, if a firm is successful enough it might also employ low-skill workers in environmental work in order t make the firm a more interesting place to be in order to attract the best of the high-skill workers it needs.